Dear Praying Friends,
It’s hard to believe 2022 is nearing its end! As we consider how God has blessed, we indeed have innumerable things for which to be thankful. We have been going non-stop since we returned from the States in late-August, and after two more weeks of a packed schedule, we anticipate being able to settle into activities of a different kind. And so, as another year comes to a close, we want to express our heartfelt thanks to you, our prayer partners and financial supporters, for your ongoing, faithful, and tireless commitment to God on our behalf.
We will give a fuller “2022 in Review” update in early January, but for now, as we think about how this year has unfolded, we each want to share a portion of Scripture that best encapsulates how we feel about what’s been happening in our ministry together.
For Amy, Galatians 6:9 helpfully sums up her perspective on her ministry as of late: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” She says, “While on deputation, a lady I had never met came up to me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid to be honest and share your struggles in your updates. We [those reading your updates] need to know not just the blessings but also the struggles. It’s okay to be real’ Here goes. While this has been a good year it’s also been a hard year, and I’m tired. Two of our children got married and the youngest moved back to the US to attend college. Our family has changed so much in the past fourteen months, and while it’s all good (we gained a pretty awesome daughter-in-law who is perfect for George David and a fantastic son-in-law who is perfect for Ashley) and I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s been hard on my momma heart. The kids are grown and are thriving in each of their settings – we’ve done our job as parents (which is all God, by the way, because we didn’t know what we were doing!). But I miss them! And the ocean between me and two of them is big! The week of Thanksgiving was a busy one for me which helped me not dwell so much on not having our family together for the holiday, and I am thankful Alyssa, George David, and Sarah were able to spend the weekend together at George’s parents.
2022 has also been a big year of computer classes. I’ve taught more classes than I did in past years, and I’ve realized it’s been too many. I’m tired. We have so many who want to take computer classes, and we just don’t have enough teachers. I have had to accept it is okay to have a waiting list. For this past round of classes, which began in September and will end this week, I have taught seven classes which meet once per week with a total of 45 students. Our students often have needs, but this term there have been many who have faced very difficult circumstances which weigh heavy on us as teachers. Some things that have happened to students include – being mugged, a diagnosis of breast cancer for a mother, a husband who had a major stroke, a brother in a bad car accident, the death of a parent, and a home invasion that included an attempted murder. We are “used to” the typical student needs for money for food or transport, but the struggles have been great these past three months for several of our students. We help where we can and pray with and for them, but we cannot imagine a day in their shoes. We get weary! I get weary! And then I get a text from a former student saying she purchased a computer and she was able to do the project she wanted to do because of all she learned in computer class. Or I get a request from a student who is having trouble applying for a visa to go to the US, and I’m able to successfully help him. Or I hear from a student how much she has learned about God during the Bible lesson. Or we have a former student begin teaching for us! Even though I get tired and sometimes feel weary, I’m thankful for the positives (the reaping) there are as a result of teaching.
While it’s been a busy and hard and sometimes wearying year, it’s also been good and I am thankful.”
For me (George), 1 Peter 5:2-3 best reflects what God has been impressing upon my heart most recently: “…shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” This year, I have taken on more pastoral responsibility than ever before, and I’ve loved it (mostly)! However, this has also been challenging because my true giftedness is in teaching. I’m at my best when I’m focusing on furthering the cause of biblically faithful theological education along the Garden Route. That’s my primary task, so to speak.
But as one called to co-shepherd God’s flock at Knysna West Bible Church, this passage has influenced me greatly. Every phrase has a particular application for where I am at the moment. I must lead as God has equipped me; I must shepherd willingly, not thinking of this as something I HAVE to do but rather something I GET to do. I must run TOWARD the work rather than run AWAY from it; and I must reflect a Christlike spirit and character in the leadership position I’ve been entrusted with. In addition to all this, I must do my work without being begged, coerced, or forced to do it. I must avoid any kind of selfish, prideful, or sinful motive in the ministry, as this will ultimately bring shame. I must also avoid undertaking my leadership with an attitude of high authority or heavy-handedness. When I consider all these verses tell me I must and must not do, it can be overwhelming. And without God’s wisdom, the perfect example of Jesus, and the daily guidance of the Holy Spirit, the overwhelming would be simply impossible. But with God’s grace, and your ongoing prayers, support, and encouragement, His work can be done for His glory alone!
We hope you’re encouraged by these verses, both for what they communicate generally, but also how they’ve taught and impacted us along our ministry journey. We are truly blessed to be here in Knysna, working alongside great teammates who love the Lord and are equally committed to serving Him with all they are and have. And we know that what we do here is enabled and strengthened by your ongoing prayer support, your financial sacrifice for us, and your ever-present encouragement to fix our eyes on Jesus.
With Deep Gratitude,
George and Amy